Desert Island Jazz
Fred Frith (2010)

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Fred Frith is perhaps the ideal musician to be cast away on a desert island: not because, as he himself points out with perhaps some perverse pride, some of the comments on his YouTube videos are less than positive; but because his interest in sound in general knows no bounds, and an island would surely introduce him to some new ones.

Born in England not long after the end of WW II, Fred was in the right place at the right time to experience the changes in music which later became known in the US as "The British Invasion". His first formal instrument, at age five, was the violin—an instrument of which he says "It was immediately apparent I was not going to be a violinist", yet which he still plays, professionally no less, about half a century later. But sooner or later he found the guitar, which became an extension of himself.

Together with fellow Cambridge University student Tim Hodgkinson, Fred co-founded the avant-rock band Henry Cow, of which he says that there's only one visual record "but, fortunately, it's a good one". The band stayed together for almost a decade following their graduation, a period during which Fred independently recorded "Guitar Solos", an album of improvised music on prepared guitars which remains a landmark more than three decades later.

Any brief summary of Fred's subsequent career becomes a just a list of locations where he has either lived (New York City, Stuttgart, ….) or recorded (London, Sweden, Maryland, …) or toured (everywhere), or a list of musicians with whom he has played or collaborated (Brian Eno, John Zorn, Derek Bailey, ROVA, …), and this one is no exception.

Largely self-taught in music (his field of study was English Literature), Fred is nonetheless recognized in musical academia: for a decade he's been Professor of Composition in the Music Department at Mills College in Oakland, California, and he was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Huddersfield in the north of England, not too far from where his story began.

The only constant in Fred's music is change. So if you don't like what he's doing right now, just wait a short while.
Pick Artist Album Song Label
# 1 Stian Carstensen Farmer's Market Graovo Dance Winter & Winter
# 2 Barre Phillips Journal Violono 9 Nellie's Fire Harmonia Mundi
# 3 Olivier Messien Turangalila-Symphonie Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Turangalila II EMI
# 4 After Dinner Editions After Dinner Recommended Records
# 5 Charles Mingus Shoes of the Fisherman's Wife Far Wells, Mill Valley Columbia
# 6 Janet Feder Speak Puppet Puppet Recommended Records
# 7 Asha Bhosle Ghazals from Umrao Jaan and Kashish   EMI
# 8 Lars Hellmar The Siberian Circus Optimistbeat Resource Records
         
Book "A book written in Inuit, so that I could spend the rest of my life trying to figure it out"
         
Luxury Item "An enormous quantity of manuscript paper"
Castaways by date
Will Bernard
11 Apr
Barbara Borden
21 Mar
Ian Carey
21 Feb
Judy Chaikin
17 Jan
Kai Eckhardt
03 Jan
Kimberly Gordon
28 Mar
Bill Holman
28 Feb
Tommy Igoe
07 Mar
Judy Wexler
04 Apr